Humans have been intrigued by memory since the age of Aristotle. Despite the progress we’ve made with modern scientific research, there’s still a lot to uncover when it comes to understanding the human memory. After all, who wouldn’t want to improve their memory?
For those that aren’t gifted with a photographic memory, fret not! As it turns out, we can train our brains to improve cognitive function, just like how we can train our muscles to be bigger and stronger.
Whether you’re a nursing graduate preparing for a life-changing exam or a retiree with too much free time in his hands, here’s three tips to improve your memory that will eventually boost your problem-solving skills as well!
Mnemonics are methods learners use in order to remember larger pieces of information using songs, acronyms, phrases, and so on.
For example, in elementary school, you may have tried to memorize the planets in the solar system according to order. Does “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” ring a bell?
While it’s obvious that you can’t use mnemonic devices for everything, they work well when you have to remember things that are in the form of lists such as stages, steps, and parts. There are many different types of mnemonic devices one can use, ranging from musical mnemonics to connection mnemonics.
This may come as a surprise, but napping has shown to help improve memory. This is definitely music to the afternoon snoozer’s ears! According to Saarland University study, a 45-60 minute nap after learning single words and word pairs had shown a significant increase in memory retention. This is a better outcome compared to volunteers who replaced the naps with watching a DVD.
While the researchers can’t deduce exactly why this is, they seem to agree that short naps can improve associative memory significantly, which is the ability to remember unrelated items, such as remembering faces and their names.
Another study in China, which consisted of Chinese adults aged 65 and over seemed to support the brain power boosting benefits of napping in the afternoon. Those who took 60-minute naps after lunch did better on their mental tests in part of memorizing and solving basic math problems.
Write Instead of Type
I think we can all agree that typing your notes is a more efficient way to get things done. Also, your hands won’t get sore. However, this might not be the best way to learn and memorize new things. We tend to sacrifice the process of understanding what’s being taught instead of transcribing what the teacher is saying.
However, when writing, the opposite happens. For the most part, we can’t write as fast as the person talking. So we end up writing just enough for us to understand, and this requires a lot of focus. Essentially, we need to understand what the teacher is saying in order to translate it into our own words.
In fact, a study found that students that did handwritten notes do better in exams compared to those that typed.
If boring old notes aren’t your style, combine this with the art of mind-mapping. The visual attributes of mind maps such as colours and images help make learning more interesting. When combined with the power of hand-written notes, you’re on your way to better memory retention!